From hole in the wall pubs in Camden, to converted railway arches in East London, jazz music appears to be returning to its heydey nearly after a century of being absent in the maze of pop, EDM and hip-hop culture. Clarinettists such as Arun Ghosh and Sarathy Korwar have now been finding their audience in the young British Asian diaspora settled in the UK. The jazz renaissance is being reflected in festivals and ticket sales, with British jazz featuring heavily in this year’s Glastonbury line-up. At the heart of this growing popularity for jazz, is Sitara, a restaurant that has been jazz-ing up the curry culture.
Established for 30 years by Chaman Sharma, the restaurant today hosts a monthly jazz night with live band performances whilst serving rich Indian flavours and traditional curry.
“I came to London in 1960 when I was 17 years old with only 300 Rupees. In the following 17 years I worked as an engineer and was engaged in maintenance of the machinery. But aspiring for a better life, I sold off my house to set up this restaurant which suffered a heavy loss in the initial three years of operation,” says Sharma.
There are several curry houses in London but very few provide a fusion of authentic English music with authentic curry. The concept of jazz is something unique to their restaurant alongwith the atmosphere at the restaurant. Sitara's Indo-British fusion is their USP.
“Introducing jazz in our restaurant has actually brought the much needed edge and increased our revenues. I should credit my son Raj who has been working with me at the restaurant from early ages. His love for jazz has enabled the restaurant's footfall to surge and further more established a young customer base pre-dominantly of Asians and Europeans,” he said.
This year EFG London Jazz Festival is also being hosted on 31st August at the Royal Albert Doc by Fusion and mixed by Rita Ray. The EFG London Jazz Festival was created 27 years ago by Serious, one of the UK’s leading producers and curators of live jazz, international and contemporary music. The aims of today’s Festival remain around celebrating the breadth of jazz, presenting a mix of new work from international and British artists and a commitment to education activity. Apart from Sitara, restaurants such as Dishoom, Ijazz, Masala Zone and The Delhi Brasserie are some of the leading Jazz restaurants in London spicing up the curry culture.